Diogo Jota scored twice in Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Southampton at Anfield yesterday. The brace gives Jota seven goals this season, good enough to place him in a three-way tie for second place among Premier League scoring leaders (only teammate Mohamed Salah has more).
It was yet another impressive performance for the Portuguese forward, and Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for the 24-year-old after the win.
“Diogo is an exceptional player, exceptional boy. A perfect signing because he has everything that a Liverpool player in this squad needs,” said Klopp in his post-match press conference.
“He has technical skills, he has physical skills and he is very smart and can learn all the tactical stuff pretty quick. On top of that, he can play all three positions up front, and in a 4-2-3-1 as a number 10.”
This versatility is what has made Jota so invaluable to Klopp’s squad. Liverpool’s traditional front three has seen Sadio Mané on the left-wing, Roberto Firmino in the false-nine, and Mohamed Salah on the right-wing. While those three can interchange when needed, they are clearly at their best when playing those roles.
Jota, however, has proven to be quite effective no matter where he lines up across the front line. This makes him the perfect player to compliment Mané, Firmino, and Salah as he can slide into any of their positions and prevent the Reds from losing much, if any, of their attacking lethality.
“He has the speed and desire to finish situations off and is really good,” raved Klopp. “His goalscoring record is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, he had a big injury last year and that is never helpful.
“But he is back, thank God, and fits really well in this team and I’m really happy with him.”
In addition to his obvious skills and talents, Jota also has the perfect mentality for the fourth attacker role he is being asked to fill, according to Klopp. He knows he won’t play every match, but he makes the most of every opportunity he gets.
“It’s not written in stone that we always start with the same line-up. It shouldn’t be a surprise that our other players are good. But it’s about making 35 really good games instead of getting somehow through a season and playing for 50 games.
“It’s completely normal that you have to be rested. For these moments you need more than 11 in the squad and you need more than the three strikers, even when you play with three. Diogo was smart enough to see that and that’s why he made the move and can contribute so well.”